The Supreme Court today expressed concern over the recent incidents involving lawyers which have brought the legal profession into disrepute, saying there was a need for introspection.
“It is time that we need to start introspection. It will help Bar Council of India (BCI) also. Some lawyers are now agitating, some are fighting, some are stoning, only a few are arguing,” a bench, comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices R Banumathi and U U Lalit, said.
The observations were made as the court referred to a five-judge Constitution Bench the challenge to All India Bar Exam (AIBE) which has been made mandatory for granting advocacy license.
The bench told BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra that it wants that the issue is settled once and for all.
“We want to settle this controversy regarding pre- enrollment training and post-enrollment exam. If an amendment to the Act is needed, we will recommend that”, the bench said.
The bench also asked senior advocates Fali S Nariman and K K Venugopal, who was present in the courtroom, to assist the court as amicus curaie in the matter and asked them to give their suggestions so that it could frame issues of reference based on those.
The apex court adjourned the matter for a week asking all concerned parties to place their suggestions.
It was hearing a batch of petitions seeking quashing of a 2010 notification by which lawyers will have to sit and clear the All India Bar Examination (AIBE).
During the last hearing on Wednesday, the court had observed that legal profession is “crying for reforms” and lawyers cannot be allowed to a have a “free ride as the administration of justice is a key area”.
The apex court had not stayed the upcoming AIBE, saying
it was not “averse” to it and would examine whether it was permissible under the Advocates Act.
“The system is crying for reforms…There are over two million lawyers in the courts. Which means, we have enough lawyers and the future inclusion must be on merits,” it had said, adding, “the profession is not something where you can have a free ride”.
The plea, seeking quashing of BCI’s notification on AIBE, alleged that it takes away the statutory right given to an eligible person to practice law.
The Advocates Act provides that a law graduate can practice law and introduction of AIBE is not mandated under the law, the plea said.
The BCI conducts AIBE, which has been made mandatory, to examine an advocate’s capability to practice the legal profession.
The apex court had also observed that right to practice law is a fundamental right for an LL.B degree holder and introduction of the examination by BCI for granting advocacy license “negates” the very right.
The BCI had claimed that the AIBE assesses skills at a basic level and is intended to set a minimum benchmark for admission to the practice of law.
“It (AIBE) addresses a candidate’s analytical abilities and understanding basic knowledge of law,” the bar body had said.
The notification bringing the AIBE into force was passed by the Legal Education Committee and the members of the Bar Council of India in meetings held on April 10 and 30, 2010.
( Source – PTI )